State parks looking for revenue to return

07/28/2012 12:06 AM

07/28/2012 12:06 AM

Kansas State parks headed into 2012 in need of good park attendance to make up for lower visitation and revenues last summer.

Alan Stark, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism parks regional supervisor, said the combination of 100-plus degree days and long periods of blue-green algae warnings lowered park income more than $1 million last year.

Some state parks in northern Kansas also suffered from high water last spring and summer.

Even with this summer’s heat, things have been better.

“It’s been a good year,” Stark said. “Everything went well through the spring. Hot weather now is slowing things down, but this is Kansas, that’s not abnormal.”

He said revenue for January through June was about $3.4 million, compared to $3.1 million during the same months in 2011.

Stark is hopeful this year’s blue-green algae outbreaks will continue to not be as severe as last year. He is concerned that some lake levels may drop to where some state park boat ramps aren’t usable.

In the spring, the Kansas legislature helped when it added about $800,000 to the park budget to help soothe some of last year’s losses.

The new reservation system that debuted in April also gave parks a financial boost in the spring, as people hustled to reserve sites for later in the year.

Stark said the parks have also tried to keep spending down.

“Things are tight, we’re used to that,” he said. “We’ve held some (hiring) positions open for a long time, but now we’re starting to fill some of those positions.”

He also said seasonal help will probably be working fewer weeks this summer.

Stark said the parks are saving money because they seldom have to mow.

“We’ll just have to see what the summer brings,” Stark said. “I think it will be a good year, but certainly not a record breaker.”

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